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BLOG: Google announces social sharing done right

Mike Elgan | July 2, 2012
The upcoming Google+ History will prepare your content for sharing, but holds it in a private space until you choose to share it.

A friend of mine on Google+ shared a screen capture of a Facebook post that reported that another friend of hers had watched explicit pornography -- the application he viewed it in used Facebook's "frictionless sharing" to broadcast the details to his mother, his friends, his co-workers, his boss ... everybody.

At the Google I/O 2012 developers conference this week, Google+ vice president Bradley Horowitz said: Automated posts "don't really work." And he's right.

The reason is that they create an incentive for third-party social sites to game the system and aggressively exploit the users. Many don't, but the incentive is there.

It pits social sites against one another in a competition to see which can use Facebook's API to virally gain the most users. Whichever app can shamelessly entice the most people to sign up wins, even at the expense of the users' reputations.

Sites share tempting content with a user's Facebook friends. But the friends can't see it or watch it unless they, too, sign up to automatically spam their friends with tempting content.

So here's a prediction: I think Facebook will copy Google's approach to auto-sharing content. It will at some point add friction to "frictionless sharing" and close its "Open Graph" a little bit so that users must consciously choose to share third-party app activity before releasing such information into the social stream.

Why will Facebook copy Google+ History? For the same reason Facebook copied the Google+ Circle concept, the Subscription concept, the longer post size concept, the look and feel of Google+'s photographs, the ability to edit comments: They are better ideas.

Whether Facebook copies Google's latest offering or not, I'm really looking forward to Google+ History.

It's still early, but from what I can tell, Google+ History should improve my posts, improve the posts of the people I circle, and most of all, do it all while improving user control over what gets shared.

Who knows? It might even improve Facebook.


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